Qatar Airways has placed a US$500 million (Dh1.83 billion) order with Boeing, taking its aircraft spending spree to $35bn. The Doha airline exercised two options for 777-200 aircraft in the LR or long-range configuration, converting them into firm orders, said Akbar al Baker, its chief executive. In total, Qatar Airways has placed orders for 180 short, medium and long-range aircraft with Airbus and Boeing as it seeks to take market share from European airlines in the transcontinental market.
"Air travel is continuing to rise in the Middle East, and it is becoming clear that the international demand is returning as the global economy shows signs of recovery," Mr al Baker said. He called the 777 "a tool for profitability but also a platform for delivering the highest customer satisfaction". The carrier already operates six 777-200LRs, 11 777-300 extended-range aircraft and two 777 freighters, with 10 units of the passenger version of the 777 jet on order.
Led by Emirates Airline's $9.1bn order for 30 of the long-range 777s, Middle Eastern airlines have ordered tens of billions of dollars worth of new aircraft during the Farnborough International Airshow this week. Qatar Airways on Monday also ordered several jets from Bombardier of Canada to augment its executive jet charter business. The only other large aircraft purchases have come from leasing companies owned by General Electric, Avolon of Ireland and a start-up called Air Lease. In addition, an order placed by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in 2008 was publicly disclosed this week.
RBS Aviation Capital's order is for 95 narrow-body aircraft from Airbus and Boeing, or 52 Airbus A320-family narrow-body aircraft and 43 Boeing 737-family narrow-body aircraft. The order is valued at $7.6bn at list prices. Qatar Airways also disclosed it was taking early delivery of the 787 Dreamliner, having ordered 30 of the aircraft. It negotiated deliveries for the end of next year instead of 2013 as originally expected. It should have the primarily carbon-fibre aircraft in service by the end of the first quarter of 2012, the company said.
The airline is aiming for a quick build-up of a network throughout six continents. In the next 12 months it will add flights from its base in Doha to European locations including Brussels, Budapest and Nice, and Asian cities including Phuket in Thailand and Hanoi in Vietnam. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org